The Rat King

A heady mix of horror both light- and heavy-hearted with intimate perspectives on homelessness, racism, mental health, and death, each poem in this anthology will confront you with the things society prefers to ignore. Always grounded in speculative fiction, the works herein nonetheless remark upon our real world with a comfortable and revealing familiarity.

“Sumiko Saulson’s latest poetry collection, The Rat King ( mixes formalist, New Weird verse with their Afrosurrealist roots and a lyrical but often brutal focus on social commentary. You can see their power of words in poems such as Regarding Nina Simone’s Bad Reputation, reflecting on their mother’s struggles with mental disabilities and being a BIPOC woman. With poems like The Rat King, they explore the literal horror of homelessness and death. Other excellent and moving poems include A Travesty in Timbuktu, I Feel Some Kind of Way, I Am Not Your Trope and Black and Queer aren’t Trends which are strong poetical manifestos focusing on their self-described being “of Black, and Ashkenazi Jewish heritage, queer, and disabled.” There is beauty, both rough and elegant, and brutality in the narratives of their verse. Sumiko Saulson is emerging as a strong voice in the field of dark poetry and The Rat King is a solid addition to their growing body of work. 

David E. Cowen, Bram Stoker Award Nominated Author of Bleeding Saffron and other collections 

The Rat King is a flowing lyrical gem. It opens up the senses in ways you may not have experienced before. The emotions run high throughout this entire collection and shake your soul onto an entirely new level. The poetry here was meant to be felt and not just read. Absolutely loved this.

—Jeff Oliver, Author of ‘Venomous Words’ Volume One New World Monsters

“Packed with powerful social commentary, pain, and love, Sumiko Saulson highlights the darkness found in every corner of our everyday world with haunting prose and metaphor.”

— Ronald J. Murray, Elgin Award-nominated author of Cries to Kill the Corpse Flower

“In The Rat King, Sumiko Saulson sings the song of the sufferer who has transcended deep hurts through a vibrant estimation of their own beautiful humanity. The poems in the Rat King explore the disfunction, hope, and grace of our collective dark heart and leaves you feeling one lingering emotion at the end: Compassion.”

—Jamal Hodge, Award-winning filmmaker and 2x Rhysling nominated poet

“Sumiko’s The Rat King has me in feelings I didn’t realize I had. I loved every bit of it.”

– Steven Van Patten author of the critically acclaimed Brookwater’s Curse trilogy

“Saulson isn’t out to just entertain. Their rhymes cut deep and the stories held within them wound. They’re here to worm their way into your skull and tear their way back out through your entrails. And you’ll have a damn fun time while they do it.” -Anton Cancre, This Story Doesn’t End the Way We Want All The Time

“With a title as cunning as its author, The Rat King promises a series of tangled tales with extra bite.” – Moaner T. Lawrence, author of The Great American Nightmare


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